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Mayor Gloria, Council President Elo-Rivera release tenant protection framework

COVID-era rental protections are long over in San Diego, but now there’s a proposal for new protections in an effort to prevent homelessness and displacement. KPBS reporter Jacob Aere has the details.

Mayor Todd Gloria and City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera released a proposed framework aimed at providing greater local protections for tenants.

The framework incorporates input from residents, tenant advocates and rental housing providers gathered over the last month, following the City Council's Oct. 31 tenant protection workshop.

"The data is clear: More people are falling into homelessness than in years past, requiring policy reforms at the local level that will help keep roofs over San Diegans' heads as well as connect people to more affordable housing," Gloria said. "I'm confident that this framework will help us take the necessary steps to protect renters from wrongful terminations, provide clarity and consistency to our rental housing stakeholders and prevent people from falling into homelessness."

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The mayor has directed city staff — in collaboration with the City Attorney's Office — to draft an amended ordinance to bring the framework before the City Council sometime early next year.

Specific protections outlined include:

— Consistency with the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, known as Tenants Right to Know, including assisting renters and rental housing providers with opportunities to address issues that could result in evictions, relocation assistance or rent waivers, property exemptions and defined requirements on issues;
— New services and resources for seniors and disabled individuals, as defined by The Fair Housing Act, that make it easier to find rental housing; and
— Development of new renter resources, online resources and partnerships with nonprofits.

Gloria and Elo-Rivera also intend to bring forward additional protections, including:
— Just Cause Protections beginning on Day 1 of tenancy;
— Relocation assistance;
— Additional time for seniors and disabled residents to find new housing when receiving a no-fault termination notice; and
— Additional time for renters to remedy violations that may be causes for eviction.

“These changes would include additional noticing to renters, confirmation of various definitions like ‘no fault’ and ‘at fault,’ the opportunity to cure — to assist renters and rental housing providers with additional opportunities to address issues that could result in wrongful termination — and relocation assistance or rental waivers,” Gloria said.

If passed, the tenant protections framework would offer renters more protection from wrongful evictions and create enhanced support and resources for renters and rental housing providers consistent with state law and, in some areas, go beyond state law to address issues facing the local rental housing market.

That’s good news to ACCE San Diego Director Jose Lopez.

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“We need to make sure that we’re closing the big loopholes like the evictions for remodeling or removing the property from the rental market. We're not against landlords doing repairs or deciding not to rent their property, but we want to make sure there’s accountability,” Lopez said.

"San Diegans who are paying their rent and following the rules need and deserve protections that will provide them with the housing security necessary for a stable life," said Elo-Rivera. "The provisions agreed upon will provide renters more security while offering rental housing providers with clear and equitable parameters as we reduce unnecessary tenant removals and help prevent people from falling into homelessness."

"I applaud the mayor and council president for their collaboration and engagement with us to evaluate a framework that will provide fairness between renters and rental housing providers," said Lucinda Lilley, president of the Southern California Rental Housing Association. "With a balanced approach, we will continue to support more San Diegans being housed while also preventing unintended negative impacts to the local housing market."

Elo-Rivera said he will continue working with stakeholders to close existing loopholes, build in accountability measures to ensure compliance with the law and expand resources and education for the most vulnerable population.